Afro-Caribbean

Afro-Caribbean Class RIOB

This class will be taught by Patrick Pride, Jr. For more info about Patrick, see our Instructors page!

about The Dunham Technique

The Dunham Technique is a fusion of classical ballet as a foundation with Afro-Caribbean styles from Jamaica Martinique, Trinidad, and Haiti. The technique separates itself from others with classical lines and length from ballet, allowing the torso to both undulate and isolate, and using a wide spectrum of tempos and rhythmical styles. There are three important things that need to be brought into the classroom: an open mind, body, and spirit! Katherine Dunham herself noted that spiritual awareness and focus are crucial key points in the Dunham technique. The body needs - or will learn - to be polyrhythmic, meaning a dancer will be working with one body part in counter-rhythm with another simultaneously. The Dunham technique is an artistic interpretation of traditional ballet, Caribbean dances, African rituals, and African-American rhythms that is still learned and loved today with its smoothness and fluidity.

about Katherine Dunham

Katherine Dunham was a rebel. Unlike other modern dancers, such as Martha Graham & José Limón who distanced themselves from ballet, she embraced it. Dunham started her dance training in Illinois with ballet as well as ethnic dance traditions. At the University of Chicago, she studied Anthropology, which piloted to her lifelong dream of examining Afro-Caribbean dance forms. She founded the Katherine Dunham Dance Company in NYC in the early 1940s. At the same time, Dunham starred in Broadway productions and Hollywood films such as the reknowned Stormy Weather (1943).

In addition to dance and performance, Dunham worked as a cultural educator and activist to forge a deeper understanding of racial and social platforms in the US and around the world. During her lifetime, she received many awards including the Kennedy Center Honors Award and National Medal of Arts. Famous students of hers include Eartha Kitt (original singer of Santa Baby) and Alvin Ailey, the choreographer of Revelations and founder of Alvin Ailey Dance Theatre Company. Dunham died in 2006 at the age of 96